Thursday, 29 March 2012

How my husband thought our son was lost....

Last year, when we were on holiday in France, my husband thought our son was lost. What happened was this; we were out to dinner on a busy village square in the south of France with family, there was dancing, music, you know the score. Anyway, I was dancing with Son 1 when he suddenly announced he needed the toilet. I dutifully took him and we were gone a few minutes. Now, I know this defies logic (as I have told my husband many times) but my husband got it into his head that Son 1 was lost. Yes, the obvious signs were there, I was nowhere to be seen too, I am a responsible parent, I was the only one not drinking etc etc. But anyway, I could see the look of panic on his face and it scared me.  I wish we had known about these anyway....Netflights ID Bracelets.
The night in question, I didn't lose him m'lord.

I love the idea, a simple bracelet with all your contact information on should your child (heaven forbid) become separated from you. Netflights have bracelets which range from simple velcro bands to high tech GPS trackers which could keep your child safe should they manage to slip away.  If someone finds your lost child, they can easily locate you via your contact information on the ID bracelet to help reunite you with your child as quickly as possible. This would be particularly useful with younger children who perhaps cannot talk or explain very well, especially in a stressful situation such as being lost.

Anyway, if you want to get your hands on a free pair of ID bracelets for your little one, visit Netflights facebook page (click like to be taken to the relevant bit) - this finishes tomorrow (Friday) night though so be quick!

Just a little extra piece of mind.
For your info, this is a sponsored post. I don't do them very often, so there.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

My name in Japanese means....

...sit down and break wind.  Yes. My first name is Heather, in Japanese there is no "th" sound so it translates to "He-Za". I lived in Japan for a year in 2002, teaching English to bemused high school students who thought I came from another planet and kept telling me I looked like Cameron Diaz (I don't).  Anyway, "He" means sit down and "Za" means break wind. So that meant that everytime I introduced myself I had to prepare myself for peals of laughter from all quarters (at times, I am ashamed to report, this came from other teachers). At first, you can imagine my confusion, I was totally unaware of the joke. Luckily a kindly colleague informed me. Oh the hilarity. There were even impressions of sitting down and breaking wind when I walked into a room.

I was humiliated (in a kindly way) on many many occasions during that year. On one occasion I was driven by the Head Teacher to get an "alien" registration card to legalise my stay in Japan. I got the photo, signed the card, handed it over and had it stamped. All seemed fine.  A few weeks later the Head approached me and asked to see the card. I dutifully handed it over. He laughed and said, "I have a sixth sense, I knew they thought you were a man". Yes, on my card, the admin officer had thought I was a man and stamped it as such! Another subject for hilarity in the staffroom.

Here are some pics.

My flower arrangement class. We impailed dead flowers on spikes.

My English conversation class. Only 8 people joined.

Bizarre Happy times.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

My most favourite song

This is my most favouite song of all time. It is very old, and Judy Collins is in fact singing a cover of the Joni Mitchell version.  

There is something wonderfully sad and nostalgic about it, well, there is for me at least. It reminds me of childhood journeys in the car, my mum singing it, my own mortality and that of those around me.

It also reminds me to get out there and take risks, don't let fear get in the way. Or clouds for that matter.

What's your favourite song and why?

Friday, 23 March 2012

A Mother's Work MeMe!

I'm a Mummy get me out of here!
A month ago and I started our very first MeMe - A Mother's Work.  We were pretty hacked off about the cost of childcare and the inflexibility of employers towards parents who were allowed to "request flexible working patterns" -  but all the employer had to do was consider their request. There is still nothing in place to ensure parents are allowed to work flexible hours. The ridiculous of this situation is compounded when you look at all the lovely tax revenue the government is missing out on by making is nigh on impossible for parents (and when I say parents, I mean predominantly women) to work in well paid, satisfying and fulfilling jobs with real career prospects.  But this isn't the only issue, even if women can get flexible jobs, it is unlikely they will be able to  afford childcare. The cost of childcare for a nursery in the UK ranges from around £25 a day to over £100 in some areas. You would have to be on a very good income to be able to "afford to work". Annoying isn't it.

From the A Mother's Work MeMe I was astonished to discover that the UK is pretty much alone in this attitude. In France, for example, parents are able to claim back approximately half the cost of their childcare from the government. Apparently the SAHM is a rare breed in France as childcare is so affordable.

I was foolishly expecting something to come out of the budget announcements the other day, silly me. As rightly says;

"Until we have universally better childcare support, huge numbers of mothers will continue to have to make tough financial and personal decisions about returning to the workplace.  Women, and mothers in particular, are being forced out of the work market."

The cynics among us might argue that the government is making it purposefully hard for women to work, that they want us out so there are more jobs for the boys, that the country is more stable when mum is stuck at home.  Oh and thanks Tory government for taking away child benefit for those who earn over 60k.  If you have two partners each earning 49k though you can keep it, it's nonsense. 

What do you think?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Daily Mail and I - super savvy shopper....

This morning was very different to my usual Thursday, it usually entails a lot of scrabbling down on the floor wiping up all the spillages under the kitchen table from the last few days when I've been at work and unable to do any housework. Today I went to the supermarket, nothing unusual in that. But today I met a freelance journalist Maid in Yorkshire (not her actual name) and was photographed for the Daily Mail being a super savvy Mummy. The idea was that we both had shopping baskets with the same items in, but I chose the bargain hunter versions in an effort to save money.  I brought Son 2 along, who was fine for the first hour, but started to get a bit tetchy (to put it mildly) after a while. Luckily the staff in Morrisons were happy to entertain him during some of the longer shoots (bad mummy).

Own brand all the way!

So these are the contents of my shopping basket. I actually learnt quite a lot about the own brand alternatives to branded goods. We had a good look at the sugar and salt contents and noticed that actually the own brand and branded items are not exactly the same which is what I previously thought. Quite often the salt content for example, was much higher in the own brand items, especially the "saver" style ones. We also noticed that the saver stuff is always on either the top or bottom shelves, so not on eye level. 

One shocker was the price of loose compared with packaged veg. One instance was a piece of broccoli with some cellophane round it, this was £1 dearer per kg than the same broccoli next to it without the cellophane! Ridiculous. It's made me think a lot more about checking labels and looking at the price per 100g/kg on the label or ticket before buying anything. Not easy with a fed up baby.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Gallery - Colour in Scarborough

This week's theme for Tara's Gallery is colour. This really rang true with me after my Silent Sunday post the other day which was a beautiful picture of petrol mixed with water.

A few months ago we went to Scarborough for the weekend. A lot of people think Scarborough is a bit of a dump, but there is definitely beauty and colour there.

I love beach huts. There is something really nostalgic about them. I love the ways these beach huts are all in contrasting colours set amongst the harsh Yorkshire day.

We went to Dorset last year and saw some similarly lovely beach huts, apparently these ones go for £125,000 each! This is Muddeford...

Hurry up summer....

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

My baby's laugh

I once read that seeing your own baby smile and hearing it laugh released "happy" chemicals in the brain of the child's parents. I can well believe it. To be honest, before your baby is old enough to smile it all seems a bit of a slog, and for what? Constant screaming and feeding? But when you first see your baby smile, it literally does something to your brain (I'd like to say, "and you forget all the sleepless nights", but that's not true).

My second child has never been a particular jolly baby, it takes a lot to make him smile and I've only heard him laugh a handful of times, he's a tough audience. So here, for you, is the golden sound of his laugh. Be patient.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

What I wore mac!

Spring is in the air! At least it was yesterday, today was pretty miserable. Even so, I've taken my bright pink M&S mac out for its annual airing. I bought it about two years ago for about £50 in an effort to cheer myself up. Everyone knows the shopping high only lasts about three hours, but this coat makes me feel good every time I put it on.

I'm also wearing my comfy pointy Dune shoes (pointy and comfy not two words I usually put together, especially with my side eights). These go with anything and I'm glad I can finally get my poor swollen feet back into them. My feet must have been on a diet.

I'm also wearing my new black jeans and blue top I blogged about a few weeks ago. Great Saturday wear for mooching round the local market and then going to the cinema. Oh and by the way, The Muppets is rubbish.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Money Saving Madness!

As part of Britmums ‘our Piggy Bank Tales’ these are my saving £££££££££££££ ideas....

Up until recently we had the mixed blessing of a staff mortgage, that was until we realised we were supposed to pay tax on it. Luckily, Mr Taxman was on the ball (albeit a few years behind) and kindly let us know about this just as I was about to go on maternity leave last year. He generously reminded us about 2007, 2008 and let's not forget 2009, to the tune of about £3000.   That was when we realised the staff mortgage was just not worth having.

So last month we went onto a "normal" mortgage, and as we are still paying the tax back from previous years, our monthly outgoings have soared.  I decided to draw on all my savvy mummyness and get to grips with our finances once and for all. This is what I came up with:

1. Sort out our car insurance. We were paying over £1000 a year for both cars even though we have seven years no claim, over 30 etc etc. Anyway, I spent an afternoon shopping around (that's the downside, it's quite time consuming) and halved our premium for exactly the same policy (same excess, legal protection, roadside assistance etc). This post is in no way sponsored by the way, but I actually found the cheapest to be Aviva.

2. Sort out credit cards. We have some debt left on our credit card from a while ago, not that much, but just enough to be annoying. We are currently paying 15% interest so decided to switch to a 0% deal. We found a good deal at First Direct (again, no affiliation!) though there are loads of others too. There is a fee to change (I think it was 2%) but that is easily cancelled out by the lack of interest.

3. Sky - we have our TV, internet and broadband through Sky. I phoned them and explained I was looking for ways to save money and they gave me some ideas so now I am saving £30 a month.

4. Energy - just a quick call to our energy supplier and they put me on a cheaper tariff! Saved £100 a year.  I also have someone coming round to install loft insulation, again, free.

5. Every toy or appliance that has broken, I took back to the shop for a refund! If it is faulty you don't actually need your receipt. I took a microwave and a remote control car back to Sainburys and got £55 back!

6. I buy everything online, so I like to earn cashback through Quidco - I have earned over £150 so far. Basically how it works is you go through the Quidco website everytime you want to buy something. Search for the retailer you want on the site then click on the link which takes you to the normal retailer website. Then the purchase is recorded to you and generally you get between 2 and 10% of the value paid into your paypal account. I sometimes donate mine to charity

7. We had our boiler serviced, the engineer said there was a leak which will explain our high water bills. Our house is now so much warmer! Hopefully that will save on heating bills too, it was obviously not working to full efficiency.

8. The next thing I am looking into is getting some sort of cash back credit card to use in shops, AND  a better savings account, AND a better current this space...

Saturday, 10 March 2012

What I wore today- Zara and H&M

I'm definitely making more of an effort these days with my appearance. I was looking at some old pictures today in an effort to find solace, and was amazed at how many nice clothes I used to have. Where are they now! I used to make so much effort with what I wore. However there are some pictures from a time in my twenties when things were not working out so well for me. My facial expression looks blank, I'm overweight and I look drawn and pale. Kind of like now really, except for the overweight thing. I seem to have no appetite anymore. Anyway, I digress.

So in keeping with my deal with myself to make more of an effort, here is today's offering: red top from Zara £25. Button leggings also Zara £20. Jacket H&M £29.99. On a windy Yorkshire day.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Do you have a safety net?

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. I don't really know how I have time to think, as I spend most of my time busy and exhausted, but there have been certain things on my mind. I suppose it all started after writing the post about the loneliness of motherhood.  I haven't been myself for some time now, I can't remember when it started, and it comes and goes, but until yesterday I couldn't put my finger on what the problem was: I thought I didn't have a safety net. I am one of those people who just gets on with things, I get up after only a few hours sleep, go to work, work hard, pick up the children, sort them out, put them to bed then sink down on the sofa, exhausted.  I could see no way out, no let up, no escape. It all felt interminable, never ending and completely unrelenting.

So I did something I haven't done in years. I talked to my parents about how I felt. Yes there were tears, sobs, confessions and truths. And they were wonderful, they said they would help me and gave me a way out of the situation I'm in so I can follow my dream.  I have truly awesome parents who love me and they will always be my safety net.

My awesome parents

Thursday, 8 March 2012

My favourite painting

I love this painting. It is kind of a sketch, but a painting as well. We bought it last summer, from a street painter in Norfolk for £10. The guy was so pleased to sell a painting, but I think it was a bargain. I love this picture as it reminds me of our precious home, which is also three storeys. 

I missed the I heart art linky deadline by Mummy Plum, but just wanted to post one of my own.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

What I Wore Today - Oasis Anchor Print

We had to pop into town today to get hubby a new suit for work so I thought I would try out my new Oasis anchor print dress. I'm wearing it with my eBay real pashmina which was only £12 and is absolutely gorgeous. As it was snowing when we left (yes in March) I'm wearing my only suitable warm boots (sainsburys sale £10) though I saw someone in Harvey Nicks give them the once over then turn away in disgust once it was established they aren't Uggs.

The hair is courtesy of wind and rain and only having 5 seconds to get ready. And yes I am in a multi storey car park. I also have my eyes shut.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Friends - The gallery!

I've decided to submit a post to the sticky fingers gallery today about friends.

This is a picture of my three bridesmaid at my our wedding back in 2006.  The friend on the far left I have known for over 30 years. My mum took us both to school on our first day and there is a picture of us both in our school uniforms together (though unfortunately the top of her head got cut off!). We went through our awkward teenage years together as we lived only a few minutes walk from each other. The friend in the middle I have known since I can remember and we also went to school together. AND finally the friend on the right - we met at secondary school and I made her be my friend (I don't think she really wanted to!). We went to uni together and lived together in a shared house in my final year. 

These are the friends I feel the most comfortable with, even though maybe we don't have as much in common as we used to. There is nothing I could say to them that they wouldn't understand and wouldn't support me with.  Of course, I have made good friend since then, but the bond I have with these three women is like ...... sisterhood.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Bargain fashion picks!

Now I have children I never go into actual shops, well, very rarely. I have been accused of excessive internet shopping which I sometimes have to reign in. It's so easy (and tempting) to click "confirm" before having a momentary pang of guilt, which soon passes. I have to say though, that as a shopping addict, internet shopping doesn't ever give me that same sense of "thrill" I get from buying things in shops. Quite a few times, things have arrived and the sense of disappointment has been great, whether it be a cheap fabric not evident in the picture, a slightly weird colour that didn't come across on screen, or just something I bought when I'd had too much sherry.

I have a new rule before buying anything online which is, sleep (well go to bed and get up several times in the night) on it before doing anything silly.

Anyway, it's not like I'm buying Prada handbags online, it's mainly stuff for less than £20.  Anyway, if I can't afford to buy anything myself, I can still recommend nice things to other people. We can window shop together.

Let's start with H&M. I think this blouse is a right bargain and would look great with black jeans and a blazer (plus heels, obvs). £7.99
H&M blouse. Not many sizes left online though.

I am also in love with this H&M blazer which is £29.99. Also available in navy and pink.

H&M stripy blazer - hello sailor!
 Speaking of blazers, I was in a shop I hardly ever go into the other day, Dorothy Perkins. I spotted this lovely nude blazer from the pavement (so ok I do occasionally go in shops, I was on my way to the opticians honest!) and couldn't believe it was in Dotty Ps! It's the ivory/black soft tux jacket
which is £38. Ok so it's polyester, at least it's machine washable (a must) and looks much more expensive than £38.  This would actually look nice with the H&M shirt in navy (like the orange one above) and blue jeans. Obviously the sleeves need rolling up.

Dorothy Perkins nude blazer
I also love this bargain top in Oasis for £22. It hangs really well and looks great with these black jeans that are currently on sale at £33.  I wear a skinny belt with the jeans and tuck the front section of the t shirt in. There are some comments on the Oasis site about the quality of the jeans after washing. I only bought them last week so can't comment on that but I was happy because I managed to get into a size 10 as they are very stretchy.

Oasis plain woven t shirt £22
Oasis scarlet black jeans £33
Last but not least I have recently discovered Next wide fitting shoes. I have huge feet and after two pregnancies they seem enormous. I can never get pretty shoes to fit. However I managed to get my canoes in a nice pair of Next heels the other day that were only £28.  I must admit I ended up getting extra wide! Not good for the ego!
Next nude patent shoes

Must. Get. Off. The. Internet.


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